Running With Scissors (A Memoir) by Augusten Burroughs REVIEW

Running With Scissors by [Burroughs, Augusten]

TITLE: Running With Scissors (A Memoir) by Augusten Burroughs
PUBLISHER: Atlantic Books
RELEASE DATE: 1 February 2004
PAGES: 340
SOURCE: Digital Library





This is the true story of a boy who wanted to grow up with the Brady Bunch, but ended up living with the Addams Family. Augusten Burroughs’s mother gave him away to be raised by her psychiatrist, a dead ringer for Santa Claus and a certifiable lunatic into the bargain. The doctor’s bizarre family, a few patients and a sinister man living in the garden shed completed the tableau.

In the perfect squalor of their dilapidated Victorian house, there were no rules and there was no school. The Christmas tree stayed up until summer and Valium was chomped down like sweets. And when things got a bit slow, there was always the ancient electroshock therapy machine under the stairs…


MY MOTHER IS STANDING IN FRONT OF THE BATHROOM MIRROR smelling polished and ready; like Jean Nate, Dippity Do and the waxy sweetness of lipstick. Her white, hand-gun shaped blow-dryer is lying on top of the wicker hamper, ticking as it cools. She stands back and smoothes her hands down the front of her swirling, psychedelic Pucci dress, biting the inside of her cheek.


I thoroughly enjoyed Running with Scissors even though it shocked and disturbed me at times. This is a not a humorous memoir but there were some funny moments. The Finch family are too bizarre, strange and weird to be taken seriously. Running with Scissors is billed as a memoir but I’d take some of the outrageous behaviour of the characters with a pinch of salt. I’m not 100% convinced everything in this book is ‘true’. The real family Augusten lived with apparently sued him for defamation.

I had a blast reading the book and thinking imagine living with these people? There are some dark moments in the book which made me feel uncomfortable. Augusten has a sexual relationship with a man in his thirties when he’s only thirteen years old. The Finch family don’t bat an eyelid that a paedophile is preying on the child they have agreed to care for. But then again Natalie, one the daughters lived with a forty-something year-old-man when she was the same age and her father thought this was okay.

There is a lot of light in this book and hope as Augusten finds his own place in the world but there is an awful lot of darkness as well. My heart went out to Augusten and how he managed to cope with a mother prone to psychotic breaks and being sent to live with her psychiatrist and his family who embark on some questionable behaviour. I enjoyed the scenes involving the psychotic breaks of Augusten’s mother the most. They were genuine and I got a real sense that his mother did her best to deal with her illness. I never really liked any of the Finch family. I liked Natalie who became Augusten’s best friend. Hope was her father’s little pet and some of her behaviour verged on psychotic. I really didn’t like Mr Finch. His behaviour was appalling at times and he should never have been allowed to work as a psychiatrist. He allowed children in his care to be preyed on my paedophiles. He encouraged Hope’s madness when she thinks God is communicating through her father’s shit (I’m not making this up). I thought he was a horrible person.

I did really enjoy Running with Scissors and would recommend it.




3 Comments Add yours

  1. feistyfroggy says:

    I haven’t read this book, but I saw the movie. The movie was the same as what you describe in your summary. My opinion is also the same as yours…except I’m not sure I would recommend the movie.

    1. I don’t think I’d see the movie. There are scenes in the book I don’t have any desire to see

      1. feistyfroggy says:

        I actually watched the movie when I was working on a post about Augusten’s brother, John Elder Robison. I wasn’t prepared for some of the scenes either!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s